After being the centre of attention in 2013, Joel Parkinson says he couldn’t be happier the spotlight is firmly on his rivals at this year’s world surfing championship event on the Gold Coast.
Parkinson came into the Quiksilver Pro last year as the man everyone wanted a piece of following his dramatic 2012 world title triumph over American veteran Kelly Slater.
The Coolangatta local didn’t disappoint his home fans, just missing out on a third Quiksilver Pro title when Slater beat him in a thrilling final at the iconic Kirra break.
But the pressure of defending the world title took its toll, with Parkinson struggling to focus on his day job amid all the responsibilities that came with being the world’s top surfer.
Parkinson’s presence has barely been felt in the build up to this year’s event however, with all eyes on Slater and new world champion Mick Fanning.
For Parkinson, who blitzed his opening-round heat on Sunday, that’s exactly how it should be.
“The pressure’s on someone else, so it’s good. Two other people,” he said.
“I feel like I can just do my thing and there was so much hype watching this morning online and on the broadcast, about Kelly and Mick, I was just like ‘love it, you don’t have to mention my name’, it’s great.”
Parkinson said it took him at least six months last year before he got back to just relaxing and enjoying his surfing, and he’s confident that freedom will be reflected in his performances in 2014.
“It was just the way it was. There’s a lot on your plate at every event, every press conference, they definitely take their toll,” he said.
“I feel really relaxed and that’s probably been for a while now. For the last six months I felt really relaxed going into events and it definitely helps me make clearer decisions in those pressure situations.”